Best practice for linking features to user stories

I have created Epics and Features at the Program level; also have user stories at the project team level.   I want to link the user stories to the features created at the Program level.   

What is the best approach to link stories to features?   I used "Parent" field to link the story to feature.

Is this the correct practice?

- Joju

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Jack Brickey Community Champion Dec 04, 2017

How are you treating the relationship of Features and Epics? Are they one and the same or do features exist in epics or parts of features exist in epics or something else?

Not familiar w/ the "parent" field. Is that a standard for custom field?

For me features are often represented by one or more stories which may or may not fall into an epic. I have used two methods in the past:

  • Custom field "Feature ID" and set all stories to the feature name. Of course this can simply be done by labels but you may want something more formal where you assign actual feature IDs and then add them to the custom field as a dropdown.
  • Create a Feature Story that all related stories are linked to.

I personally like the second approach but it just depends on preference and what your requirements are.

@Jack Brickey I am fairly new to JIRA. 

I was under the impression that the issue type can be either Epic or Feature (its just a label).    We are treating them in a hierarchical order (Epic-Feature).   I have a few Epics and Features created for this program and made these Epics parent to the Features. 

From the user story the team developed, I clicked on the Parent drop down (could be a custom field - not certain). and selected a Feature.  Now when I look at the details of this story, can see the Feature and its parent Epic.

Prior to associating rest of the stories to Features, wanted to make sure, I am doing the right thing.

Jack Brickey Community Champion Dec 04, 2017

The issue type is a bit more than a label, especially where Epic is concerned but I won't go into those differences here but consider that you can customize all sorts of workflow behaviours based upon the issue type. You can read about them in the Atlassian documentation.

So if you create a new issue for the project in question, what issue types exist? Typically for SW OOB you will see something like: Epic, Story, New Feature, Improvement, Bug, Task or similar.

Epic is unique from all other issue types. Stories, New Features, Improvements and Task are all more or less equivalent but obviously have different meanings. They can all have Sub-Tasks and they can all be linked to each other.

For me Epics are generally large to very large efforts. More specifically they can span many software releases. Features generally should be deliverable w/in a release but that isn't always true. If you are going to use Scrum vs. Kanban then you should define stories that can be completed w/in a sprint. So if you are going to use "Feature" issue type then my $0.02 is that use them just as a 'container' for stories and/or tasks and manually close them out once all stories/tasks are done.

The 'right thing' is really what works best for you an your team. Morever, I'm a fan of choosing a path and seeing how it goes. You can always change later as you figure out how the team works.

Thank you - your explanation helped.    I did not realize Epic is a native attribute to JIRA.   I see a "Parent Issue" field drop down in the details of a story where all the Epics and Features are displayed.   I chose the appropriate Feature and saved it.   Is the right way to link story to a feature?

What about the case where the Feature actually sits higher in the hierarchy than Epic (so Feature is Epic's parent)? Is there a way to create filters that behave like Epic Link but instead show a Feature's child Epics?

Jack Brickey Community Champion May 18, 2018

There is not a 'higher order' than Epic except maybe Project. While you could certainly create an IssueType called Feature it cannot act as a container for epics. IMO, epics should be a child of a feature. In my experience, Epics are typically many months or certainly many-many weeks long. If you have a feature that is many-many months then it should either be a project or broken into smaller features.

Thank you for your reply. I don't disagree with you, but I was wondering if such a thing was possible with that kind of setup.

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